PNE star happy to put himself on the spot

Preston North End's Paul Gallagher scores the opening goal from the penalty spot after John Welsh was fouled by  Barnsley's Luke Berry ''Photographer Rich Linley/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Preston North End v Barnsley - Friday 26th December 2014 - Deepdale - Preston''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Preston North End's Paul Gallagher scores the opening goal from the penalty spot after John Welsh was fouled by Barnsley's Luke Berry ''Photographer Rich Linley/CameraSport''Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Preston North End v Barnsley - Friday 26th December 2014 - Deepdale - Preston''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
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Last month was something of a tale of two penalties for Preston North End midfielder Paul Gallagher.

The 30-year-old netted PNE’s winner from the spot against Barnsley on Boxing Day.

Three weeks earlier though, he had blazed a penalty high over the bar in the FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury.

What is evident is that the miss in the Shrewsbury game did not dent his confidence when it came to stepping up the next time North End were awarded a penalty.

“I bet people were saying ‘why is he taking one again’ when we got the penalty on Boxing Day,” Gallagher told the Evening Post.

“But I have had a good record since my time at Plymouth on loan and that continued when I went to Leicester.

“I think I had scored 15 out of 15 for Plymouth and Leicester, while I got one here last season.

“When I missed that one in the Shrewsbury game I got a bit down on myself.

“I knew that when we got the next penalty I would be confident of scoring.

“The lads had confidence in me too because they let me take it.

“This time it didn’t go out of the stand, it went into the net which was nice.

“All the lads knew I would take it, no one was trying to get the ball off me.

“It might have been different had Joe Garner been playing, he definitely would have wanted to take it!”

Gallagher’s penalty technique which sees him turn his back to the keeper before running up to take it, goes back to his Plymouth days in the 2008/09 campaign.

The season before, he had missed one playing for Preston in his first loan spell here.

Said Gallagher: “I don’t really know why I started taking them in that particular way.

“I remember missing one for Preston ages ago when I first came on loan.

“When I went to Plymouth I decided it was time for a change of technique.

“Alan Shearer used to walk away and turn round at the last moment, James Beattie did the same.

“I just don’t want to make eye contact with the goalkeeper, I want to keep him guessing.

“Usually when I hit it hard, the ball has gone past him before he has dived. Against Shrewsbury, it ended up in Row 20 which was a bit unfortunate.

“Thankfully, it did not affect the result and we won the game anyway.

“Things happen like that in football, you get twists and turns.

“The manager here knows I’m confident to take one and the main thing is winning.

“If it is someone else who takes a penalty to help us win a game, that is fine with me.”

Gallagher and his North End team-mates are back on the FA Cup trail this weekend when they face Norwich City at Deepdale.

They have had a few days to recover from a busy schedule of games over Christmas which saw them beat Peterborough and Barnsley, then draw with Crewe last Sunday.

Gallagher enjoyed the festive matches, even with the quick turnaround between games.

He said: “I’ve been playing these Christmas games for quite a few years now and it never gets easier.

“But I enjoy them and what helped us was that the manager was able to make a few changes because of the depth of the squad we have.

“We got seven points out of nine which we would have taken had we been offered it before.

“To be fair, we should have taken all nine points by winning at Crewe but we only drew.

“In order to get through the games when they come in quick succession, you’ve got to have the right preparation and recovery.

“I’ve been doing the ice baths which aren’t the greatest in this weather – I’ve been going in wearing a full tracksuit to try and keep a bit warmer!

“We get some good advice from the sports science people, while the manager gives us time to recover in between games.

“With all the travelling we did to the long distance games in the first half of the season, we’ve had a pretty busy few months.

“It was nice to have Christmas Day off and be at home for the kids to open their presents.

“I’ve got two really young children and one who is a bit older who knows a bit more about it, so to see the smiles on their faces was brilliant.

“When you get the day off, you still have to be careful and make sure you prepare properly for the game – you cannot dive into the selection boxes.”

Former PNE loan goalkeeper Declan Rudd will be in the Norwich squad which travels to Deepdale and could even start.

Said Gallagher: “It would be nice if Declan played and I’m sure he will get a good reception.

“He is a fantastic goalkeeper and the Preston fans still speak highly of him.

“At Norwich, Declan has got a good keeper in front of him in John Ruddy and they have Mark Bunn who was at Blackburn.

“If Declan plays, friendship will have to go out of the window for 90 minutes because we want to put goals past him.

“Norwich are a good side with plenty of Premier League players left from when they came down.

“We played a couple of teams from the Championship last year and gave a good account of ourselves.”